Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Yaya Jammeh must tell Gambians the state of the groundnut sub-sector

It all started when Jammeh deliberately ordered that the producer price is not announced publicly - a deviation from past practice.

Last March, it was mooted that the Gambia Groundnut Corporation, (GGC) the agency that has monopoly over the sub-sector was going to be absorbed into a new entity to be called the National Food Security, Processing and Marketing Corporation which was later changed by dropping the word "marketing" from the name.

As at now, no Bill has been brought to the floor of the National Assembly for its creation and approval into law creating the new entity.  It appears that this did not prevent the regime of Jammeh from allowing the NFSPC from operating illegally because its creation has not been approved by the National Assembly and assented to by Jammeh.

Local reports now have it that farmers, in apparent desperation for lack of marketing outlets and information regarding marketing arrangements for this years crop, have resorted to bartering their groundnuts for rice with middlemen.  Who these middlemen are is any body's guess.

And certainly bartering groundnuts for rice was not our idea of what Vision 2016 was about i.e. rice self-sufficiency by 2016.  We are less rice self-sufficient today than at the inception of this ill-fated, poorly-conceived and politically-driven Vision 2016 which should be scrapped as distraction.

Farmers are faced with the most difficult challenges they've ever faced in the 21-year history of this incompetence regime.  According to reports, cash from Banjul to replenish the few buying points or "seccos" - presumably operated by the new NFSPC whose legal status is unclear - is not forthcoming because the old GGC had been bankrupted for years and no viable alternative has been proposed. Farmers are having to travel long distances to buying points because there are fewer of them this year, all because of lack of financial resources. See here and here for options available to the regime.

We said last year that contracting $ 30 million from the Islamic Development Bank to inject into an already bankrupt GGC was adding to Gambia's debt burden woes. We hope Jammeh heeded our advise thus saving the Gambian taxpayer $ 30 million plus service charge.